Interior architect and garden designer Leonie Cornelius runs Blume Design House in Co Leitrim. Leonie was the winner of Gold Medal and Best in Category winner at in Bloom in the Park 2012.
An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D. and President Michael Higgins both visited her show garden, “A Love Letter to the West” at the recent Bloom in the Park 2013, and it was topped off with a silver gilt medal from the show.
Blume design brings the highest quality of design both inside and out and strives to create extraordinary design for the client. Leonie draws inspiration both from the natural prairie planting styles as well as clear architectural lines and symmetries resulting in an exciting synthesis of old and new.
What were you doing (careerwise) when you decided to create your own business?
I had studied interior architecture and then decided to combine that with a garden design course in London. I loved the idea of the inside outside connection.
When did you start your business and what inspired you to do this?
I really set up formally after my studies in 2011 and I started by taking part in the Supergarden programme which brought some great exposure and created a client base which is really hard to get at a start up stage.
What were your start-up costs? How did you get the money, and what did you use it for?
Thankfully, starting up as a designer the costs are not massive-the main tool being my hands! There are realistic costs however, such as investments in cameras, computer equipment, stationery, website etc and the Leitrim Development Company have been a huge support in bringing my business to the level it is at today.
What was the biggest obstacle?
The biggest challenge was probably having a small child and setting up a company on your own. It takes a lot of discipline to ensure that you have a good work/home balance when working for yourself.
Who supported you?
I have an amazing family and fab friends who supported me on an emotional level, sometimes it’s just about someone saying ‘of course you can do that’. Apart from that, other designers, my local community and my university in London, and local support such as the LDCO.
How long did it take you to get everything/your business off the ground?
I think it will always feel like you are never quite where you want to be when you are ambitious and determined to push yourself to be the best you can be yourself. I know that after Bloom this year I have more clients than I can take on right now so I guess that’s a good thing!
What do you love most about being your own boss? What are the drawbacks?
Definitely the fact that sometimes you can’t switch off at home.But the other side of that is that I have the luxury of working with an incredible lakeside view in the sunshine if I feel like it!
Where do you work from and do you have employees?
I work from home primarily but also have a small town office for work and meetings.
Do you have entrepreneurial role models?
I admire a lot of people, career wise I love when people are not afraid to mix genres-art and architecture for example. I love when people don’t believe in limits and try to remind myself that the only real limit is your own fear.
How did you learn and acquire the skills you use to make your business successful? How do you continue to grow and learn?
I studied architecture for 5 years and then garden design for 3 so that was a lot of drawing! I have always been creative though, I remember my friend Marilin and I drawing huge complicated houses and gardens for hours and hours on A1 sheets of paper when we were 8!
If you had it to do over again, what, if anything, would you do differently?
I am not sure, I honestly think that everything that has happened brought me to the place I am now where I am happy so that can’t be bad.
What is your best selling item/service?
Garden design. Gardens are for life and I believe they improve peoples quality of life, giving them extra living space to enjoy.
Are you a LookWester (previously living outside the Western Region) and if so why did you decide to move home or relocate to the West?
I am originally from Germany but have lived here from the age of 7. We fell in love with the West and decided there was no better place to live.
What advice would you give to anybody Looking West?
Do it! Absolutely and totally.
More at www.blume.ie
Top Right: Leonie Cornelius at Bloom 2013. Photo by Colin Gillen of Framelight.ie
Centre: “A Love Letter to the West” by Colin Gillen of Framelight.ie